For the past few years, the internet has grappled with a cold case: Remember that game that was, like, a farming sim, kinda like Harvest Moon, but you have to kill your wife and keep her body hidden from the police? What was it called, again? It had the ring of a creepypasta, but it also sounded like something that could be real.
Yesterday, internet sleuths officially solved the mystery.
The basic beats: On April 30, 2016, a Redditor named Sparta213 posted to r/tipofmyjoystick, a subreddit for “finding the name of a game that you can’t remember.” They had a very strange, sinister-sounding game dogging their memory: “All I can remember is that it’s kind of like Harvest Moon but with a dark twist. The game starts out with you and your wife, one night you get into a fight and you end up stabbing her to death. Now the game revolves around you farming to stay alive while trying to keep the town from finding out about the ‘incident’ that happened. Every now and then the cops come to search your house and you have to hide her corpse.”
While you might expect onlookers to be skeptical, perhaps suspecting Sparta of trying to plant a wannabe creepypasta, the r/tipofmyjoystick crowd champed at the bit to help them find their half-remembered white whale. Some asked further questions, like information about what platforms it may have been on. Others made suggestions, many of which were shot down. A Flash or browser-based game seemed most likely, several suggested. But no consensus was reached.
Over the next few years additional posts trickled in from other folks struggling to remember the name of the mysterious game. Redditor DavidSpaceAMA posted about an “evil farming game,” styled like Stardew Valley, “where you murder your wife, and then you try and pretend you never killed her.” Another post—made by a since-deleted user—inquires about a game wherein “you killed your wife, but after that you just lived as normal managing your farm.” In January 2020, a subreddit dedicated solely to the mystery of “that evil farming game” popped up. It currently has over 12,000 members.
At some point Sparta replied to a DM on the related Discord, suggesting that maybe they’d dreamt up the game’s existence after falling asleep while watching a video. “I’ve just chalked it up to it being dreamed up by me in a half awake/half asleep state while watching a livestream,” they wrote. “The stream in particular would’ve been a Vinesauce stream if you really want to scour, but that’s hours upon hours of footage.”
Yesterday, YouTuber Justin Whang may have finally put the five-year-old mystery to rest. He shared his theory in this comprehensive rundown of the entire affair:
According to Whang’s video and to a thorough post by Redditor PM_MeYourEars, the “evil farming game” can indeed be traced to an old video by Vinesauce detailing an idea for a game that’s “just regular Harvest Moon with your wife, and midway in the game, you have an argument with your wife, and you accidentally kill her.”
Sparta confirmed as much. On Discord they wrote, “So guys I just got around to looking at the Vinesauce animated video that someone found and as anticlimactic as it may be, I believe that this is likely the source of the game. It fits everything exactly.”
In other words, “Evil Farming Game” appears to be a textbook case of the so-called “misinformation effect,” a psychological phenomenon you may also know as “collective false memory” or the “false memory effect,” which in some cases can be shared among the wider population to the point that patently incorrect memories become cultural flashpoints. Classic examples include the infamous Mandela Effect (in which many thought the South African political leader died decades ago), Shazaam (a fake film many believed was real), and Curious George (no, the Man in the Yellow Hat’s BFF never had a tail).
It is far-fetched but not impossible to spark false memories in others, thanks to a linguistic trick called “presupposition.” Short version: If I ask you a general question like, “Hey, remember that Warthog level at the end of Halo 2?”, that gives you room to mine your memory. You’d quickly recall that there was no Warthog finale in Halo 2, and you’d tell me as much. But if I ask you something more specific, say, “Man, wasn’t that jump in the Warthog level at the end of Halo 2 sick?”, you’ll be more likely to drum up a “memory,” albeit fabricated, because I asked you something so specific.
Anyway, none of this really matters, because Harvest Moon: Murder Your Wife Edition might soon escape the realm of collective imagination for the greener pastures of Actual Thing You Can Play. As Whang pointed out in his video, someone’s in the process of turning it into an actual game, That Evil Farming Game: RePlanted. The developers are currently seeking alpha testers and aiming for a release this year.
Additional reporting by Alexandra Hall